Which masks work best? Experts now know

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:16 AM EDT
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(CNN) - Scientists at Florida Atlantic University are experimenting with different non-medical masks to find the most effective face covering to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These researchers determined that a bandana was the least effective among the mask options, though better than nothing.

They “delivered” a sneeze or cough from a mannequin head wearing varying face coverings and used lasers to detect respiratory droplets.

Their results showed that droplets from an uncovered cough were able to travel more than 8 feet.

Droplets from a bandana-covered cough traveled 3 feet. With a folded cotton handkerchief, droplets traveled 1 foot, 3 inches, and with the cone-style masks, they traveled about eight inches.

Stitched-quilting fabric masks were the most effective, with droplets traveling 2.5 inches.

“Our researchers have demonstrated how masks are able to significantly curtail the speed and range of the respiratory droplets and jets. Moreover, they have uncovered how emulated coughs can travel noticeably farther than the currently recommended 6-foot distancing guideline,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.

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